Aided Language Input
When working with children that are using an augmentative communication system it is important that every child has their own personal communication system. It is also important the adults that are interacting with the children are using a similar symbol system so that the child can see the augmentative system in action. This teaching strategy of using an augmentative and alternative communication or AAC system to show students how to communicate with symbols is called aided language input.
In the past adults have been known to carry around some symbols to assist children however more often than not these were directions or behavioral interventions ( ex “be quiet’, “stand”). How much more communication could happen if we instead had the Core Vocabulary available at all times? This would allow so much more communication exchanges both in content and in intent. If these symbols were in the same place as the child’s system this would assist the child in learning the place and the message.
Think of what the student might want to say and use the Core Vocabulary to help them say it. So you see a child reaching for a toy car, you might say.
You want car?
You like the car?
Look car go.
When you start you keep your exchanges short. You point to the words, making sure that the child is looking. This might mean you have your finger on the word for several seconds before pointing to the next symbol. You might start with a single word then add another word. You are showing the child how the symbols work you are not requiring the child to point to the words.
Think that it a typically developing child hears thousands and thousands of words before we ever expect them to say anything. A student that is using symbols to communicate needs to be able to see the symbols over and over before we can expect them to communicate.
Aided language is NOT hand over hand.
Core Vocabulary should be used EVERYWHERE, by EVERYONE, in ALL SITUATIONS.
Watch the child label the behavior you observe, honor the behavior with a response if you can, and then demonstrate how that same idea could be expressed with a symbol.
Make sure that you allow time for the child to respond. WAIT. This means you are not adding to the message. You are pointing and saying the word and waiting for the child’s response.
Something that might make it easier to “think core” is to develop scripts for some of the activities that you do that employ the Core Vocabulary. With practice using Core Vocabulary will become more natural to you.